Council to consider Darby Street trial concept following support from community

17 Aug 2022

The community has shown its support for a six-month trial to extend outdoor dining and improve pedestrian and cyclist safety within Newcastle's renowned "eat street" precinct.

The positive feedback was received during consultation for the City of Newcastle project, which is designed to encourage increased visitation and trade along Darby Street.

Councillors will vote next week on the trial concept plans, which include the installation of a temporary raised outdoor dining area, relocatable "mini deck" outdoor dining, and traffic calming measures designed to reduce motorist speed and improve safety and accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists.

Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said consultation with local residents and businesses had helped to inform the project, with further engagement planned throughout the six-month trial period.

"Community input is an important part of the planning process, so I'm pleased to see such strong public interest in and recognition of the benefits of implementing this trial within one of Darby Street's busiest precincts, delivering safer and more inviting local places for Novocastrians to shop and eat," Cr Clausen said.

"The trial is a much-welcomed boost for businesses following the pandemic. While this is only a six-month trial, it will provide valuable insights into ways we can activate and improve the precinct to positively impact local economies, community health, and wellbeing as part of a potential future upgrade of Darby Street, which is a high priority under City of Newcastle's Local Centres Renewal Program."

The raised dining area will be temporarily installed in the parking lane outside the most concentrated strip of eateries (between Sanctum and Goldbergs cafés), freeing up the footpath for pedestrians while more than doubling the current outdoor dining space in this area.

The "mini deck" will provide an additional mobile recreational and outdoor dining space that can be relocated for use by interested businesses, while new seating in the Darby Headphones Courtyard will provide additional options for people to sit and socialise.

Ben Richardson, Owner of Autumn Rooms cafe, is pleased to see City of Newcastle considering the needs of local business and the community through this trial project.

"Darby Street already has an eclectic mix of dining and shopping options that attract visitors to the precinct, however this trial will add to the visitor experience, which will help business owners understand how to evolve to continue attracting customers,” Mr Richardson said.

New paving, lighting and public art including murals will also inject new life into the Headphones Courtyard, with work in this area planned to commence next week. Proposed traffic calming measures including a raised pedestrian crossing will be presented to Council for consideration at Tuesday's Council meeting.

To assist with increasing the available short term free parking in the area, for the duration of the trial 18 spaces in the Queen Street car park to the rear of the library will be converted to 2P free spaces.

The trial has been made possible with funding from the City of Newcastle Urban Centres Revitalisation Program and a $500,000 grant from the NSW Government through the Streets as Shared Spaces program (Round 2).